PGA TOUR To Stream Every Shot From Every Player For First Time, At 2020 Players Championship

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PGA TOUR To Stream Every Shot From Every Player For First Time, At 2020 Players Championship - The Reports

Every shot by every player will be streamed live at the 2020 Players Championship. (Photo by Stan … [+] Badz/PGA TOUR)

US PGA TOUR

Ever since the launch of the streaming service PGA TOUR Live in 2015, a growing contingent of fans has been clamoring to be able to see every shot from any golfer they wanted. At the 2020 Players Championship, they’ll get their wish – more than 32,000 shots in total from the elite field of 144 players will be live-streamed from TPC Sawgrass.

The logistics are enough to make one’s head spin. With half of the field starting play in the morning and half in the afternoon, there are potentially 24 or 25 groups on the course at any given time, with multiple balls in the air at once. Each group will have its own dedicated stream, with almost 120 cameras spread around the course to capture the action.

While PGA TOUR Live has offered featured group coverage as a streaming complement to the television broadcast window, the reality is that the majority of a PGA TOUR event’s action isn’t covered or ever seen. That all changes at the Players Championship, where the revolutionary coverage will be available to PGA TOUR Live subscribers on either the NBC Sports Gold or Amazon Prime video channels.  Mike McCarley, the president of all golf properties for NBC Sports Group, calls it “super-serving golf fans,” and PGA TOUR officials anticipate a wealth of possibilities for the enhanced content, both in terms of monetization and otherwise.

“We’re confident that by bringing all of this competition coverage out and producing it all, we will find multiple uses for it,” Luis Goicouria, the Tour’s Senior Vice President of Media, said in an interview. “It could be daily fantasy, it could be gambling, it could be international players who never make the broadcast and now people in Sweden or Japan can now watch their favorite golfer. It could be any number of applications we haven’t even thought of yet.

“Any player in the field can go back and see his entire round. That’s invaluable,” he added. “And think of the archival uses for this. They myriad ways we can use that and leverage that is important.”

PGA TOUR To Stream Every Shot From Every Player For First Time, At 2020 Players Championship - The Reports

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL – MAY 13: Danny Lee of New Zealand putts on the 17th hole green as fans watch … [+] and a virtual reality (VR) 360 camera streams coverage during the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship on THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on May 13, 2017 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)

US PGA TOUR

The Tour’s biggest annual event, the Players Championship is a natural fit to debut the new comprehensive coverage plan. The PGA TOUR started streaming live on digital platforms on the early 2000’s at TPC Sawgrass, offered its first virtual reality experience at the course, and introduced its augmented reality iPhone app there recently.  

“Part of this is elevation of that event. It’s our flagship event,” Goicouria said. “It is the modern major and we want to make sure we do the new, cool, innovative stuff there. And this is proof of concept, really. It’s a chance for us to try this out, prove we can do it and then we absolutely expect to be doing this in the future on a week-in, week-out basis on our tour.”

Technology and Platforms

As you might imagine, live streaming every single shot from a PGA TOUR event is both complex and costly. Making this option a reality hinged on two key elements: new technology that made the production feasible from a cost standpoint and having enough viable platforms to show the content. While many of these over-the-top (OTT) platforms have existed for years, Goicouria notes that the adoption rates are rising as people become increasingly comfortable consuming sports on the internet and via apps on their phones and tablets.

Challenges still remain, however. Most notably, how do you visually present to a viewer that they can watch any one of 70-some golfers at any given time? 

“Once you’ve figured out how you’re going to produce that from the golf course, you also have to figure out how you’re going to present that to your audience in a way that they can easily understand that and consume it,” Goicouria says. “There’s any number of ways you can do that. We’re in the process of solving that now.”

PGA TOUR To Stream Every Shot From Every Player For First Time, At 2020 Players Championship - The Reports

FORT WORTH, TX – MAY 26: A remote control camera records play on the 17th hole during the third … [+] round of the Fort Worth Invitational at Colonial Country Club on May 26, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

US PGA TOUR

The PGA TOUR’s expanded streaming offerings for the 2019-20 season actually start before the Players Championship, to a lesser extent. PGA TOUR Live has added early round featured group coverage from seven events between September and December – approximately 140 hours of live content in total. This includes live streaming, for the first time ever, of featured matches from the Dec. 12-15 Presidents Cup at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Australia.

In addition, the Tour is introducing a new TOURCast product on its mobile apps and website. The platform allows fans to follow every shot from each group with a 3D rendering of the particular hole and shot trails. It also features on demand video clips of available shots.

The new content offerings, including the wall-to-wall live streaming at the Players Championship comes as the bidding process looms for the PGA TOUR’s next media rights deals.

The tour’s current partnership with NBC, Golf Channel and CBS runs through the end of 2021, but Sports Business Daily reported recently that the PGA TOUR is seeking to have new deals lined up in January and will entertain formal pitches from media companies in the coming weeks. ESPN, Amazon, FOX and AT&T are among the other parties that have expressed interest, according to the Wall Street Journal, which said the PGA TOUR is seeking a dedicated golf channel and a significant increase in rights fees. The tour’s current media deal is valued at approximately $400 million annually, the WSJ says.   

“We believe that content is so valuable, particularly live sports content – the competition and things happening inside the ropes — because all these media companies that have so many platforms that they need content for,” Goicouria said. “It’s not just the broadcast channel any more. It’s various OTT platforms – some entertainment, some sports, some entertainment and sports. All of these platforms are hungry for content and we’re an extremely content-rich sport.”

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